Emails: Clinton campaign pushed to cancel Wall Street speech
WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton’s campaign asked former President Bill Clinton to cancel a speech to a Wall Street investment firm last year because of concerns that the Clintons might appear to be too cozy with Wall Street just as the former secretary of state was about to announce her White House bid, newly released emails show.
Clinton aides say in hacked emails released Friday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks that Hillary Clinton did not want her husband to cancel the speech but after a “cool down period” was eventually convinced that canceling — as Bill Clinton eventually agreed to do — was the right step.
Campaign manager Robby Mook said he realized canceling the lucrative speech would disappoint both Clintons, but it “could plague us in stories for months.”
The Clintons’ paid speeches have been an issue throughout the campaign, particularly Hillary Clinton’s private speeches to Wall Street firms. Hillary Clinton earned about $1.5 million in speaking fees before launching her presidential campaign, while Bill Clinton reaped more than $5 million from banking, tech and other corporate interests, according to financial documents filed by Hillary Clinton.
The campaign has never released transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches, but the hacked emails did reveal excerpts flagged by her advisers as potentially concerning.
In the excerpts, Clinton talked about dreaming of “open trade and open borders” in the Western Hemisphere. She also says politicians sometimes need to have “both a public and a private position” on issues.
Bill Clinton was scheduled to speak to Morgan Stanley executives on April 15, 2015, a few days after his wife was set to launch her bid for president.
“That’s begging for a bad rollout,” Mook wrote in a March 11, 2015, email.
In a later email, Mook says he feels “very strongly that doing the speech is a mistake.” Hillary Clinton was scheduled to campaign in Iowa, “where caucus goers have a sharply more negative view of Wall Street than the rest of the electorate,” Mook wrote.
Clinton’s longtime aide, Huma Abedin, assured Mook the next day that Clinton was fine with the speech being canceled, especially if Bill Clinton agreed. The candidate “just needed a cool down period,” Abedin wrote.
The emails were among thousands published this week by WikiLeaks, which has been releasing a series of emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
U.S. intelligence officials last week blamed the Russian government for a series of breaches intended to influence the presidential election. The Russians deny involvement.